Press Release
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[AHRC Joint Statement] INDONESIA: No prosecution 21 years after Talangsari incident

February 8, 2010

A Joint Statement by the Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) and the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

INDONESIA: No prosecution 21 years after Talangsari incident

The Attorney General ignores the recommendation of the National Commission for Human Rights while victims commemorate the 21st anniversary of the atrocities.

(photo: survivors of the Talangsari massacre calling for justice, source: KontraS)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS) are disappointed about the continuing delays in launching investigations into the Talangsari case. 47 villagers were killed and many tortured and disappeared when the military attacked the Talangsari village. For the last 2 years, the Attorney General has neglected the recommendations of the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM). Moreover, the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, remains silent on the issue of rampant impunity in Indonesia and does not show any political will to support the prosecutions of past human rights abuses in the country.

(photo: Mr. Paimun, victim of the Talangsari incident, source: KontraS)

In 1989, the inhabitants of the Talangsari village, in East Lampung district of Lampung province, decided to practice Islam according to Koranic law. Thus, women wore veils and people had routine religious activities, such as mass prayers and Qur'an classes for children. The local government accused the villagers of constituting an illegal civil organisation, trying to establish an Indonesian Islamic State. It sent warnings to the villagers asking them to give up their religious lifestyle and to embrace Pancasila instead. After the villagers refused to give up their right to practice their religion, the Indonesian Military (ABRI at that time) attacked the village on February 6th, 1989. (photo: Ms Widyaningsih, victim of the Talangsari incident, source: KontraS)

According to information from KontraS many of the violations that took place amount to "gross violations of human rights" thus invoking Indonesia's human rights law. Komnas HAM's inquiry has also shown the occurrence of crimes against humanity. It is reported that the military intervention resulted in 5 abductions, 47 summary killings, 88 disappearances, 36 cases of torture, 23 victims had their right to fair trial violated, and 175 were arbitrarily arrested. The Indonesian Military also forcefully evicted persons, demolished houses and were subsequently involved in several cases of land grabbing.

Komnas HAM conducted inquiries into the massacre from September 2007 until June 2008. In October 2008, it submitted its recommendations to the Office of the Attorney General (AGO). According to Law No 26/2000, regarding Human Rights Courts, it is for the AGO to follow-up Komnas HAM¡¦s recommendations and to start judicial investigations into the case. However, the Attorney General's Office has failed to act according to the law and to respond to calls from various human rights groups. In fact, the authorities have made the families¡¦ situation worse by withdrawing facilities such as water and electricity from the village to pressure them into giving up their fight for justice and remedy.

The case is only one of several examples that give evidence of the AGO's negligence and support for political cover up. Other cases include the 1997-1998 enforced disappearances of student activists, the 1998 May Riots, the 1998-1999 student killings or the Wasior and Wamena incidents in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Until now, the AGO still refuses to investigate these cases and did not show any will to follow up Komnas HAM¡¦s recommendations.

To provide justice to victims and give due course to the law the AHRC and KontraS urge:

1. the Attorney General to follow up Komnas HAM¡¦s recommendations and immediately conduct an investigation to reveal the truth and fulfil justice into the Talangsari human rights violations
2. the Indonesian President to ensure that an effective remedy is given to the victims and their families such as compensation, restitution and rehabilitation
3. the Indonesian government to give priority to develop social facilities in Talangsari village such as electricity, community health center (puskesmas), public streets and water facilities.

The AHRC and KontraS assert that injustice continues until this severe case has been addressed by law and justice and full remedies have been given to the victims including the punishment of perpetrators.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.